Pioneer Pride Week a success

By: Jessica Peña, Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College celebrated Pioneer Pride Week April 18 – 23, with on-campus activities and events.

Jewelry is Fun had a representative set up from April 18 – 19, in the Wood Hallway. The company sold accessories, books, school supplies and jewelries.

According to Diana Pemelton, Jewelry is Fun representative, all proceeds from the sale will go toward fundraising for children’s gifts on Christmas.

“Pioneer Pride Week has been successful so far. We had Jewelry Is Fun on Monday and Tuesday, and had good traffic throughout both days,” said Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities.

According to the Jewelry is Fun website, the sale works with schools and corporations to help them raise money for a cause of their choice.

Coffee with the Prez was on April 20, in the Mary Nichols Dining Hall from 9 – 10 a.m., and a total of 20 people signed in for biscuits and coffee while Dr. Jerry Faulkner, President of Vol State, spoke with students at their tables.

“The cafeteria didn’t seem to be as busy at the 9 a.m. time slot. In the past, we have had it at 10 a.m. and it seems to do better,” said Sherrell.

Campus Spa was on April 19, in the Mary Cole Nichols Dining Hall, and approximately 80 people attended for massages.

“As far as how significant the week is on campus I would say it’s significant, but I think we have some work to do to make it important across campus,” said Sherrell.

Sherrell said Vol State has a lot more work to do in the future to make Pioneer Pride Week more prominent to the student population.

“We are working hard to instill some school spirit and promote our athletics.

We have flyers at all of the tables in the cafeteria and emails have went out to all students throughout the week regarding the events,” said Sherrell.

“The goal is that this week known as Pioneer Pride Week will catch on and become a tradition each spring semester to celebrate our baseball and softball teams,” Sherrell added.


Annual career fair a success


(Pictured: Students and employers gather in the gymnasium for the event.  Photo by: Sam Walker.)

By: Sam Walker, Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College had a Career Fair on April 20, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Pickel Field House Gymnasium. Local Business and recruitment tables were located throughout the gym to recruit students.

Each table varied with opportunities from profit, nonprofit, volunteer service, healthcare, private business and government jobs.

Many military and law enforcement branches were in attendance such as the Navy, National Guard Army, Army, and the Sumner County Sherriff’s department with tables with recruitment information.

With every table there were representatives to provide information to students about their respective companies. Free items like pens, cups, bumper stickers, and flyers accompanied them.

Cornhole was set up inthe back of the gymnasium by 88.5 WVCP, Volunteer States premier radio station.

Student Kris Hill was the gladiator chosen to run the cornhole competition and if and only if you defeated him could you receive a WVCP bumper sticker.

Hill commented, “I love the idea of it. There are a lot of local business that come in and it’s great if your looking for a job.”

There were also many organizations and companies that offered full-time positions. Student Sa’ed Husary said “WPGD-TV is pretty cool. It’s an open job that is good if you have a flexible schedule.”

A slideshow was presented to show the different companies and organizations present. Stationed next to the door of the gymnasium sat a student by the name of Tyler Fuller. who provided the entertainment for the event via grand piano.

Fuller said, “It’s been fun, very busy the whole time, it was pretty successful.”

So if your looking to get your name out there and see what life has to offer go to the next Vol State Career Fair.

Editorial: How distractions affect your life

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief

Everyone has faced a distraction, most likely several distractions, throughout his or her life. Whether it is as simple as a pleasant looking object or a troubling thought in the back of your mind, distractions are everywhere.

They can make college difficult as well.

Distractions cost us our ability to put 100 percent into everything we work on. When writing papers, we have a lingering want to check social media or watch YouTube videos of cats. When we try to study, the subtle “buzz!” of our cell phones is enough to ruin our focus.

Distractions are literally everywhere, often finding a way to pry us from our focus and ruin our ability to perform the task at hand.

Even now, I am struggling to write this editorial because of my buzzing phone and the sounds of television from the next room.

This leads us to wonder how we can possibly avoid a foe as formidable as the dreaded distraction. Something that seems so innocent at first, but has the destructive power to ruin our thought process entirely.

The key to fighting distractions is as simple as it is complicated. You fight a distraction by refusing to be distracted.

When you are writing that paper, remind yourself that the rest of the internet will be there later, but that deadline will hit fast. If you are studying for a huge test, remember that you can (and should) silence your phone so that it is not tempting you.

If you lack self-restraint, as I sometimes do, have a space away from your worst distractions. Leave the phone in another room, download an app to lock your computer down—save for that word document—and remind yourself to focus on the task at hand.

Sometimes our own minds work against us. We find ourselves stuck on some troubling or exciting thought in the back of our minds that keep us from giving full attention to our work.

We naturally wander from the tasks we need to finish, especially when we are bored or uninterested. However, once you focus and finish what you are doing, you will find that your stress is significantly lessened.

Do whatever works for you, whether it is simply ignoring your phone, finding a quiet place to work or even pushing yourself through to get finished.

Once you are able to finish your homework, projects, papers, and other assignments without the constant hassle of going between one thing and another, you will find that not only will your grades improve, but so will your overall attitude.

The next time you need to finish something, put the phone down and ignore social media because your future is a lot more important that texting or Twitter.

Vol State to host collaborative Spring Choral Concert


By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor

Volunteer State Community College will be hosting its annual spring choral concert April 24 at 3:00 p.m.

The event is free and will be held on the main campus in the Wemyss Auditorium, located in Caudill Hall.

This year’s event is titled “And This Shall Be for Music” and features the Vol State Singers, directed by Nancy Slaughter, and the Portland High School Ensemble, directed by Ben Warren.

Music will be performed by Ben Troxler (piano); Yvonne Kendall (flute, piccolo, recorder); Mingzhe Wang (recorder); Mitsutoshi Inaba (recorder); Nancy Slaughter (recorder); and Derek Greene (percussion).

Since the production is being recorded, the event is not suitable for children under 12-years-old.

For the past five years, Slaughter has played for Portland High School’s musicals.

She said she approached Warren with the idea for this collaboration and he too thought it was a good idea.

“The Portland High School students are a very nice group of kids,” said Slaughter.

“They work very hard and are really quite lovely and smart.

“Mr. Warren is wonderful to work with, because he and I think the same way musically,” added Slaughter. “He’s very good at what he does.”

This is the second year that the two groups have come together. Slaughter said that last year’s concert was a success.

“Our goal for next year is to add a third and/or fourth high school, so we’d like to get Gallatin and Hendersonville.

“We are starting it out to try to get people to join us so we can do major works, maybe with a string quartet or a small orchestra,” added Slaughter.

The two singing groups will sing six pieces together, the Vol State Singers will sing five separate pieces, the recorder consort will play three Renaissance pieces, and the PHS Ensemble will sing two separate pieces.

“Most of the concert is in English. There will be two songs in Italian.

“Some are from the Renaissance, Baroque and some are written by contemporary composers—so they’re modern,” included Slaughter.

Slaughter said that she was letting the students have a break on Monday (a reward for their hard work and dedication) because they were already prepared and ready for the concert.

Then, they will run through it on Wednesday and have the dress rehearsal on Saturday.

Warren said that the Portland students have been getting ready for this since January.

“One of the biggest challenges is that my ensemble singers, coming into January have not sung together as a whole unit, so in addition to learning the concert repertoire—we have to build a quality choral tone and blend,” added Warren.

Warren said that he and Slaughter will each conduct a few pieces.

“This gives her students the opportunity to sing under me, and my students the opportunity to sing under her.

“We each bring differing approaches to singing and choral directing, and it’s valuable for students of all ages and mastery level to have exposure to that,” included Warren.

He said that the PHS students are excited about this opportunity at Vol State.

“One of my primary goals, since taking over as choral director at Portland High School four years ago, is putting my students out in the community to serve as ambassadors for PHS,” included Warren.

“I want people to see that not only do we have great performing talent here, but we also have excellent student citizens.

“Nancy Slaughter and I are thrilled to collaborate and create a unique bridge between our students coming out of PHS and Vol State, and hope to expand our endeavor to more Sumner County high schools in the future,” added Warren.

Warren and Slaughter have the same ideals and goals for this purpose.

“I’d like to express my gratitude and appreciation to Vol State for hosting this event,” said Warren.

“There are great things happening in Sumner County schools in cooperation with Vol State and their higher education resources.

“Music education is very strong in Sumner County and we aspire to keep it so, while producing high caliber young musicians,” added Warren.

Kat Lambert, a student in the Vol State Singers, said she enjoys this collaboration because of the people that are involved in it.

“Everyone in the group is so encouraging, and kind. We all work the entire semester to achieve our goal to sound good as a whole group,” Lambert said.

“People should come [to the concert] because it shows support for our music department, but it also exposes people to different styles of music.

“It really gives you an appreciation for how difficult the classical genre is,” said Lambert.

Vol State oratorical contest a success


(Pictured: First place winner Gaynell Payne.  Photo courtesy of Gaynell Payne.)


(Pictured: Second place winner Lauren Weber.  Photo courtesy of Lauren Weber.)

By: Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor

Volunteer State Community College hosted its annual Hal Ramer Oratorical Contest on Wednesday, April 13.

Out of the 11 contestants, there were three winners. Gaynell Payne came in first place with Lauren Weber and Dustin Hodges coming in second and third place, respectively.

The event was chaired by Dr. Melva Black, Instructor of Communication, and judged by three impartial judges.

“What’s funny is that I am comfortable with standing up and addressing a lot of people informally. I’m not comfortable with giving a memorized speech,” said Payne.

She gave a persuasive speech in favor of legalizing medical marijuana and reclassifying it from a Schedule I drug, which prohibits research.

“As an advocate for special needs and a mother to a special needs child, this is a very important and personal topic to me. It’s heartbreaking and grossly unfair that such an effective treatment is being kept from those who need it,” Payne said.

Payne, a first year returning adult student majoring in English, said she could see herself doing something like this again if it is for something important.

Weber, who said she is very comfortable with public speaking, said she was nervous before the competition.

“Dr. Black asked me exactly a week before this competition to join.  What made my nerves even worse was the fact that when I do things like this I do them to win and expect nothing but excellence,” said Weber.

Weber’s speech about the Peace Corps was made with the hopes of making the audience active participants whether by donating time or money to the organization.

“I just happened to be lucky enough to speak on this nonprofit. I felt as if I was rambling while I was delivering my speech and I was just praying that I was glorifying God the entire time,” Weber said.

Weber, a sophomore at Vol State who plans on attending seminary school, said she could see herself doing something like this again and that it was a good opportunity to grow as a public speaker.

Hodges, a political science major, missed the sign up date for last year’s competition, so he took steps to ensure he would not make the same mistake this time around.

“Public speaking has come very naturally to me in college, like most people I had a small fear of talking in front of groups of any size for many years,” said Hodges.

Hodges’ involvement with numerous honor societies and the College Republicans club on campus gave him the opportunity to overcome his fear.

The main point in Hodges speech was America’s future. “With all the controversy in recent years, people shooting at cops, etc., we need to remember we are all simply Americans. We are not separated into little boxes on a form. We are all Americans.  After major tragedies like Pearl Harbor and 9/11 everyone forgot their differences and came together as one, we shouldn’t need a major tragedy to remind us we are all the same,” he said.

“Not voting is like slapping Plato, Jefferson and MLK in the face, and saying ‘Your Efforts Were Pointless,’” Hodges said in his speech.

Of the contest, Black said that they all “had a blast.”

Understanding Sexuality: Intersex

By: Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief, and Mackenzie Border, Layout Manager

Intersex has replaced the term “hermaphrodite” to refer to anyone born with “a reproductive or sexual anatomy and/or chromosome pattern that does not fit typical definitions of male or female,” according to

For intersex individuals, it begins in the womb. “Males and females are defined by their sex chromosomes, biologically speaking,” said Maryam Flagg, Instructor of Biology.

“There are a variety of processes occurring in the development of the sex organs, including development of the gonads (ovaries or testes), development of the duct system and accessory glands, and development of the external genitals.

“This occurs between six and 20 weeks of pregnancy,” Flagg added.

Flagg also said that there are four major groups where a discrepancy is found between the external and internal genitals. These groups include XX Intersex, XY Intersex, True Gonadal Intersex, and chromosome variations, such as XO, which are all detailed in the graphic below.

Flagg included that there are a variety of medical problems that can occur with Intersex individuals.

“98 percent of XO pregnancies are spontaneously aborted,” Flagg stated, adding that those who are born have difficulties ranging from organ defects to infertility.

Flagg explained that fetal development could be affected by blood supply, oxygen level, nutrition, and chemical exposure.

“In recent years, there has been increasing evidence that exposure to environmental sources of estrogen is causing reproductive disorders in humans. Studies have shown a continual decline in semen quality and an increase in male reproductive disorders and cancers in industrialized countries.

This has been attributed to chemicals that mimic estrogen or disrupt the endocrine (hormone) system,” said Flagg.

“Those who are Intersex constantly face a battle with medical personnel and people in general that there is nothing wrong with their bodies,” said Jamie Fuston, Instructor of Sociology.

“Often people who are Intersex are advised to remove parts of their body that are perfectly healthy in an effort to fit into the sexual dichotomy we have created in our society,” Fuston added.

Fuston explained that we frequently force those who do not fit into exclusive categories, such as male or female, into one anyway.

“If they refuse to identify as one of those categories or don’t change their body to fit what we in society deem as ‘normal’ we often shame them for it.

“Those who are Intersex are often taught not to talk about their bodies and to hide themselves and society largely renders them invisible,” Fuston stated.

Fuston included an example of this happening now, in which the trans* bathroom bill, which would force Tennessee students to use the bathroom of their assigned sex, completely ignores those who are Intersex.

“By technicality, I would count as an intersex person,” started Elizabeth Martie, President of Spectrum.

“Some issues that come with [being intersex] include developing sexual relations with a partner, low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness, just to name a few,” Martie added.

Student Life BBQ to take place at Vol State

By: Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor

Volunteer State Community College will be hosting a student life barbeque Wednesday, April 27 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on the Quad.

The event is a joint effort by Student Government Association, the Office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, and Campus Police.

“This is an attempt to bring awareness to the themes of Black Lives Matters and All Lives Matters. There is historical distrust between communities of color and law enforcement,” said Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, Director of SLDI, and organizer of the event.

He said that he is hoping this event can demonstrate camaraderie and solidarity.

“I’m hoping that a conversation can be held for all to understand that it’s not a support this cause or that cause,” said Yarbrough, “It’s not to say that all lives aren’t important, but rather how all this violence affects the community as a whole…not certain segments or demographics.”

Yarbrough said he had the idea when he was at the Black Brown College Bound conference in Tampa, FL in Feb., 2016. Listening to the success other campuses have had sparked him to want to host something, he said.
Outdoor games will be available while law enforcement officers barbecue food and get to know students. Campus constituents will also be making addresses about the state of affairs. Some of the activities will include running with a 22 lb. police belt, driving a golf cart with drunk goggles and other games.

Clubs will set up tables with information on how students can get involved for the next year.
“There are those who are tired of lines of division and want to be an all-inclusive campus body,” said Sandra “Domino” Hunt, president-elect for SGA, “We are hoping everyone will come be a part of making a change and a difference.”

Hunt said that everyone who is involved in putting on the event will be available to answer questions, concerns and provide information on how to be someone who can make a difference.

Hunt said the SGA’s role in the event is to show support to all students and be informed as well about issues that students face every day.  We are excited about this happening on campus.  We hope it will open lines of communication and engage conversations of issues we face.

“Students have a voice and they need to use it.  Not just for casual conversation or complaints, but to suggest changes and get involved is keeping other students safe,” Hunt said.

Hunt made it clear that a main point of the event would be “See Something, Say Something.”

“Where do you report incidents? Who is a safe person and where are safe places on campus? How to report possible dangerous situations that could endanger lives on campus. If you think the threat is real or a remote possibility, report it,” said Hunt.

“One part of society affects another. Everyone should be aware of what’s happening and be compassionate,” said Yarbrough.

Milk Shown for LGBT Awareness Month


(Pictured: Sean Penn as politician Harvey Milk during a protest against the Briggs Initiative.  Photo courtesy of IMDB.)

By: Gayla Collier, Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College had a screening for the movie “Milk” on April 12. It was shown at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The Office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives showed the movie for LGBT Awareness month.

“Using flashbacks from a statement recorded late in life and archival footage for atmosphere, this film traces Harvey Milk’s Career from his 40th birthday to his death,” according to IMDB’s website.

In the film, Milk organizes gays’ purchasing power to build political alliances.

“I thought it was interesting that they dramatized some of the things that happened to appeal to a broader audience,” said Braxton Dawson, a Vol State student.

“Dramatization is a good way to get the message out, especially with a movie that has history in it,” said Devon Suarez, a Vol State student.

“This was my first time seeing this film. It was interesting to see a need for civil rights outside of an ethnic standpoint,” said Kenny Yarbrough, Director of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives.

LGBT Awareness month is not until June, but the Office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives wanted to screen the movie in advance because school is not in session in June.

Student Leadership Luncheon a success


(Pictured: Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett along with Jenny Hernandez.  Photo by: Jessica Peña.)

By: Jessica Peña, Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College hosted the annual Student Leadership Luncheon on Wednesday, April 13, in the Mary Nichols Carpeted Dining Room.

The event was coordinated by the Office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives and was decorated with a red carpet theme.

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett was the keynote speaker at the luncheon.

“I really liked that the honorable Tre Hargett touched on the importance of a servant leader.

“In my opinion about servant leadership, you can easily judge the character of an individual by how they treat others, especially those who cannot do anything for or to them,” said Lori Miller, Secretary of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives.

Miller said that student leaders give her a new perspective on things and allow her to see many topics and issues from a new point of view.

“I think it is vital to recognize our student leaders because they need to know that we appreciate and support the hard work and dedication that they give to the student body,” said Miller.

Miller said as student leaders are engaged with the campus, everyone can learn what the student body as a whole is needing.

“It is like a bridge between two islands. The student leader is that bridge between the islands of student body and administration of the campus,” added Miller.

Many student leaders and faculty attended the Student Leadership Luncheon.

“I thought honorable Tre Hargett’s speech was very motivating to not only the leaders of Vol State, but to anyone that wants to make a difference,” said Jenny Hernandez, Officer of Leadership for Phi Theta Kappa.

Hernandez said part of her belief is that true leaders have the desire to take the initiative in making a difference.

“One thing he said that stood out to me was ‘Be the difference you want to see in your community,’ sometimes we have no idea of the extremity of the influence we have on someone.

“As a leader, this is important to me because even a handshake or opening a door can have a lasting effect on someone,” said Hernandez.

The student leaders on campus who spoke at the podium were Sandra “Domino” Hunt, Allison Meyers and Taylor Matson.

The Student Leadership Luncheon featured an awards ceremony that honored the individuals in different categories who showed talent and leadership in what they do for Vol State within their affiliated groups.

The recipients were Jesse Versage, Judy Schuelke, Torrey Zimmerman, and Sandra “Domino” Hunt.

The menu at the luncheon included mashed potatoes, fried zucchini, croissants, pulled pork, ice cream, and apple cobbler.

In the absence of the Vice President of Student Services, Patty Powell, Assistant Vice President Emily Short ended the luncheon with a few closing remarks.

New Dean of Humanities chosen

NEW DEAN(Pictured: New Dean of Humanities, Jennifer Brezina.  Photo by: Barbara Harmon.)

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor

Volunteer State Community College has hired Jennifer Brezina as the new dean of the humanities department.

Mickey Hall, Professor of English, was the interim dean until Brezina was hired. Hall was also on the search committee that chose to hire her.

There were about 50 candidates and only five were brought to campus, said Hall.

“Primarily her experience as a humanities dean and an English Department chair,” were the reasons why Brezina was chosen, he said.

“Her attitude about how to deal with people and how to work in a division like this,” were also a deciding factor, added Hall.

Having been the interim until Brezina was hired, Hall knows exactly what responsibilities she will be taking on.

“She’s the main administrator for the division, which is a large division: 55 fulltime faculty, probably 75 part-time faculty, three departments, and eight or nine disciplines,” said Hall.

“We have the new building coming online, there is a lot of budgeting, there are a lot of personnel issues, hiring and evaluating faculty, training, planning, and assessment.

“It’s a massive job,” included Hall.

Dr. George Pimentel, Vice President for Academic Affairs, was also on the search committee.

“We had an extensive search and a lot of good candidates were in that search,” said Pimentel.

“But, ultimately, Dean Brezina had a wealth of experience. She was a dean already in a community college in California in the same division.

“She had come up through the ranks there and her interview was outstanding—she really nailed all the questions we asked and her wealth of experience just really shined in that,” added Pimentel. “And that was why she was chosen.”

Brezina talked about what interested her most about Vol State.

“The people—every interaction in the interview process, from the first contact with HR to getting to know some of the faculty and staff through the interview process, everyone was just so enthusiastic and welcoming.

“It is also the reputation that Vol State has in the community,” added Brezina.

The first thing she said she wants to do is become familiar with everyone.

“I’m still learning the programs and the names and getting to know the campus, so that is goal number one,” said Brezina.

She also talked about how she plans to influence Vol State.

“Just doing what I can to support all the wonderful teaching and learning that is going on here.

“I’m really excited to be here and looking forward to all the challenges and opportunities I am going to find here, I know,” said Brezina.

Even though she has only been at Vol State for about a week, Brezina seems to already be making an impression on the faculty.

“We are really happy to have her. She is turning out to be everything that we hoped.

“She seems to be a really fine person to work with and we’re extremely happy in the choice that we made,” included Hall.